Musk X-Plodes Twitter

I’m convinced Elon Musk must have read my last column, Is TikTok Overtaking Musk's 'Everything' App Dreams?”

Even if TikTok’s burgeoning plans aren’t what pressured Musk, he still made it official. On Monday, the billionaire rebranded Twitter to “X” by sneakily switching out the social media app’s classic blue bird logo with the criss-crossed letter.

Derived from PayPal’s original name, as well as Musk’s X Holdings Corp, which he officially merged with Twitter in April of this year, the new logo marks a major turning point in the social media app’s almost two-decade history.

Though it’s only been two days since the change, users have already reported several noticeable effects, like the glitch that immediately redirected several journalists and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey to Other Twitter users say they’ve had trouble with the server IP. Some experienced an unwanted file download when trying to access the platform.

Even funnier, after the rebrand, a worker began removing the company’s old logo from outside its San Francisco headquarters only to be forced to stop after removing six letters. The police said the work was “unauthorized.”

Furthermore, the name X may result in legal complications, as companies like Meta and Microsoft already have intellectual property rights to the same letter. In fact, it’s so widely used and trademarked that some believe future lawsuits are inevitable. Trademark attorney Josh Gerben recently told Reuters he counted almost 1,000 active U.S. trademark registrations covering the letter X across a variety of industries.

But alas, glitches, property issues, and lawsuits have become mainstays for Twitter ever since Musk took the reins last year.

What’s more interesting about the change to X is the app’s uncertain future, especially as competition ramps up in text-based social media.

“The new logo showcases a sleek, stylish, and modern design,” commented Nick Wheywell, head of social at the Whiteoaks International agency. “However, one aspect to consider is its lack of representation for Twitter's iconic feathers and bird. Personally, I find it reminiscent of something Meta would create. Is Elon trying to one-up Threads?”

As X replaced the Twitter banner, TikTok announced text-specific posts, likely in response to the massive success of Threads, which gained 100 million users in the first week, becoming the fastest growing app in history.

However, Threads -- likely to Musk’s delight -- has seen a sharp drop in activity, with its daily user count having fallen by 70% since its peak on July 7. But the app is still pretty bare-bones, with useful features like a following feed and automatic translations rolling out now.

While Meta controls multiple leading apps in the social space, TikTok’s “everything app” ambitions may be more in line with Musk’s. With continual attempts at live shopping and ecommerce experiences, a budding music streaming app, and now text-based creator capabilities, the ByteDance-owned app may become a one-stop-shop for brands, creators and artists while watches by the wayside.

When asked whether Twitter’s move to X was a smart one, Wheyall said his company believes more users and marketers will continue to ditch Twitter.

“Elon Musk has destroyed what we know and love about Twitter, like the authenticity of the blue tick, the buzz of conversation and its uniqueness compared to Instagram and TikTok,” stated Wheywell.

Ross Clugston, CCO at WPP’s branding and design agency Design Bridge and Partners, also weighed in.

“The step away from all the baggage, political and otherwise also makes sense,” he said. “One would assume that [Musk] has a clear plan for how this social media platform can connect his products in some way:  Starlink, SpaceX, traffic management with the Boring Company and Tesla. His bets are usually highly calculated and contrary to the media’s assumptions.”

It’s hard to believe Musk, who, in my opinion, purposefully poured fuel on Twitter’s existing political fire through countless public acts, is in control of this situation. While he certainly has the media’s attention, it’s unlikely he has widespread support –– at least not among the journalists, brands and marketers whom he’s whiplashed and deceived time and time again.

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